March 8th 2017 Dispatch #19
Day 122 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny (PAWSM)
Day 47 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
International Women’s Day inspires and requires a return to calling out Misogyny and the War on Women. Misogyny is the indispensable partner, the necessary foundation for White Supremacy and White Nationalism and Fascism and Christian Supremacy.
Over the millienia, the basic tool of oppression has involved treating one-half of the world’s human beings as the Other, the less-than-human, the not-as-human. Objectified, sexualized, treated as property, degraded as source of filth, cut-up and mutilated, repository for all male rage, source of everything dangerous, and the (barely) living testimony to the consequences as well as requirements of misogyny. Once this treatment of women is learned/accepted/practiced, how easy it becomes to join with all other atrocities of oppression. Once objectification of another human being is felt and believed as normal, no constraints are too horrible to breach. [From PAWSM Dispatch #4 November 17th 2016]
LOOK and SEE! We must realize how important the liberation of women from Misogyny is to achieving equitable and just communities. Misogyny illuminates how the oppression of women is essential to building and maintaining all structural oppressions. Indeed, death-dealing/brutality-affirming Misogyny exemplifies the fear and hatred of the other that support oppression in all forms.
For example, while James Baldwin didn’t specifically consider Misogyny, he saw oppression growing from conception of masculinity premised on hyper-heterosexuality and misogyny that required hatred of any challenge to this norm. Thus homophobia is rooted in the definition of masculinity built on misogyny.
In Four Days That Changed the World’: Unintended Consequences of a Women’s Rights Conference, Gillian Thomas reviews DIVIDED WE STAND: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics by Marjorie J. Spruill and recounts compelling recent history. Thomas says Spruill persuasively argues that events surrounding the four-day National Women’s Conference in 1977 created the conditions for entrenching intransigent misogyny.
The Conference had an unintended, equally revolutionary consequence, though: the unleashing of a women-led “family values” coalition that cast feminism not just as erroneous policy but as moral transgression. Led by Phyllis Schlafly, a small but savvy coalition of foot soldiers mobilized against the Conference’s aims. These activists found common cause in their deep religiosity and opposition to feminism’s perceived diminishment of “real” womanhood. And although their leadership denied it, the group also had ties to white supremacists. “Divided We Stand” argues that the potency of these advocates and their successors reshaped not just the nation’s gender politics, but the politics of the Democratic and Republican Parties as well.
The chapters detailing these competing events are the best in “Divided We Stand.” The feminists’ conference was steeped in symbolism, starting with the lighting of a “torch of freedom” in Seneca Falls, N.Y. — site of the 1848 women’s conference marking the beginning of first-wave feminism — that over the next six weeks was carried to Houston by a relay of runners including icons like Billie Jean King. Speakers included three first ladies — Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson — as well as Coretta Scott King, the Texas representative Barbara Jordan, the anthropologist Margaret Mead, and fiery political newcomers like Ann Richards and Maxine Waters.
In contrast, the family values rally was as much a religious revival as a political event. A sign placed next to the podium said it all: “Women’s Libbers, E.R.A. LESBIANS, REPENT. Read the BIBLE while YOUR [sic] ABLE.” Many of the attendees — who were nearly all white — were men. Among them was the archconservative California representative Robert Dornan, who exhorted the audience to let their members of Congress know, as one attendee put it, that “the great silent majority is on the move to take the nation under God’s guidance.”
After Houston, that contingent was more successful in making political inroads than its feminist counterparts. The difference, as documented by Spruill, was in its single-minded pursuit of those power brokers Dornan had commended to it. Most notably, it won over the Republican Party leadership. At the time of the commission’s formation, Republicans were moderate when it came to feminism; the 1976 party platform, for instance, included support for the E.R.A. But by the 1980 presidential election, that had changed; the “family values” coalition co-opted the party platform, won conversions on abortion from Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and propelled them — along with numerous other state and federal candidates — to victory.
In declaring Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute, the “Racial Integrity Act of 1924”, unconstitutional in 1962, the Supreme Court essentially decided that religion would no longer legally be a defense/tool for White Supremacy. But, religion continues to serve as a legal tool to control female bodies and shore up Misogyny’s institutionalization. Yup, the majority of white so-called evangelicals/Christians voted in 2016 for a man who seemed to be the antithesis of their values in every way except one – apparently the most important one — control of women’s bodies. They are certain that God’s work includes Misogyny.
I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is. www.azquotes.com/author/18501-Joan_D_Chittister
Aileen Hernandez, a life-long hero and tireless champion for justice, recently died. Her obituary recounted her observation as she looked back over a lifetime of struggle. We have not made it. We have not made it by any way,” she said in 2013. “So we have a lot of work to do and we need the young people to know the history.” www.washingtonpost.com/national/aileen-hernandez-former-now-president-who-fought-for-womens-and-minority-rights-dies-at-90/2017/03/01/
Yes, just as with dismantling White Supremacy, we need to know history deeply and incisively to dismantle Misogyny.
Anti-choice-self-described-pro-life women who have the audacity to claim that they are also feminists are nothing more than misogynist shills for Christian Supremacists and White Supremacists. Feminism, not surprisingly, has become a meaningless, almost insulting word when we recognize/acknowledge what is at stake. The War on Women threatens all women and the future of the planet. Misogyny works insidiously every day to deaden and disable women – women who can lead the revolution to dismantle all structural oppressions.
Feminists have to question, not just all of Western culture, but the organization of culture itself, and further, even the very organization of nature. Many women give up in despair: if that’s how deep it goes they don’t want to know. www.azquotes.com/author/4834-Shulamith_Firestone
Jessa Crispin’s new book, Why I’m Not a Feminist, A Feminist Manifesto, challenges women to understand how Feminism in the early 21st Century came to be about the experiences of individual women making it within White Supremacy and Capitalism.
It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those other identified as outside the structures, in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make the strengths. For we have built into all of us, old blueprints of expectation and response, old structures of oppression and these must be altered at the same time that we alter the living condition which are the result of those structures. For the master’s tool will never dismantle the master’s house. www.azquotes.com/author/9041-Audre_Lorde
Madeleine Davies, Senior Writer for Jezebel, recently posted a piece she calls “A Frank Talk with Jessa Crispin About Why Modern-Day Feminism Is Full of Shit.”
Crispin does not seek to be controversial. Instead, she strives to expose just how far feminism has gotten from its original goal—to rebuild a society based on equality and fairness—and how incredibly diluted the word “feminist” has become. There’s nothing dry or boring about Why I’m Not a Feminist, A Feminist Manifesto but it still finds ways to chafe—particularly in its unflinching and convincing condemnation of just how retrograde and blind we’ve become to how our self-empowerment disenfranchises others, and the ways we reward performative victimhood over tried and true activism.
By denouncing feminism, Crispin does not fault it. Rather she illuminates how the cause itself has deteriorated over time. I do agree with Crispin’s assertion that many feminists, in all our eagerness to get ahead and go mainstream, have lost any sense of radicalism—and philosophy—along the way.
“We’ve forgotten,” to quote Crispin, “that for something to be universally accepted, it must become as banal, as non-threatening and ineffective as possible.” Similar to a lot of current day political discourse, we now shy away from intellectualism, perhaps even spurning it in favor of poorly researched, poorly written personal essays and girl power platitudes. Rather than focus on women who are actually disenfranchised, she poses that many of us would rather inflate our own victimhood—a time-honored tactic to avoid responsibility—and make excuses for our greed and lack of empathy. “We keep losing women to participation in the system, instead of where they should be, which is insubordination. The idea that you can make the strongest impact by influencing culture from the inside is naive at best, disingenuous at worst.”
“Once assimilation became a possibility—and I feel like this happens with pretty much every marginalized group that’s fighting for equality—once assimilation becomes a possibility, you kind of abandon your principles because it’s much easier to just enter the system than destroy it. The more radical thinkers in the second wave make contemporary feminists really uncomfortable. I’ve seen a lot of people working really hard to say, “Oh, well, I’ve never read Andrea Dworkin, but here’s my opinion on her” and, “Oh, you don’t have to read Firestone. You don’t have to read any of that stuff. You can understand feminism within your own self and experiences.”
And that’s the new thing. You don’t have to understand history, you don’t have to understand the philosophy. It’s just, “your experience is the only thing that’s valid.” So understanding the second wave feminist stance that the whole system is broken and gross and has to be destroyed—that’s gonna make someone who thinks that it’s only their experiences that are necessary feel uncomfortable.” http://themuse.jezebel.com/a-frank-talk-with-jessa-crispin-about-why-modern-day-fe-1792367458
Reparations for African Americans recognizes that comprehensively addressing the systemic consequences of White Supremacy must be the foundation for creating a just and equitable America. Similarly for women, equity and reparations for the systemic consequences of Misogyny demand a multi-dimensional accounting and accountability.
We need to imagine a world in which every woman is the presiding genius of her own body. In such a world women will truly create new life, bringing forth not only children if and as we choose but the visions, and the thinking, necessary to sustain, console and alter human existence-a new relationship to the universe. Sexuality, politics, intelligence, power, motherhood, work, community, intimacy will develop new meanings; thinking itself will be transformed. This is where we have to begin. www.azquotes.com/author/12289-Adrienne_Rich
Two organizations that are imagining and doing the dismantlement of Misogyny’s toxic consequences:
National Domestic Workers Alliance www.domesticworkers.org
The National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States, most of whom are women.
Founded in 2007, NDWA works for the respect, recognition, and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers. The national alliance is powered by over 60 affiliate organizations—plus our first local chapter in Atlanta—of over 20,000 nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers for the elderly in 36 cities and 17 states.
NDWA is winning improved working conditions while building a powerful movement rooted in the human rights and dignity of domestic workers, immigrants, women, and their families by: Changing how we value care, women, families, and our communities; Developing women of color leaders and investing in grassroots organizations; Building powerful state, regional, and national campaigns for concrete change.
Domestic workers care for the things we value the most: our families and our homes. They care for our children, provide essential support for seniors and people with disabilities to live with dignity at home, and perform the home care work that makes all other work possible. They are skilled and caring professionals, but for many years, they have labored in the shadows, and their work has not been valued. These workers deserve respect, dignity and basic labor protections.
Domestic work is the work that makes all other work possible. Together, we can win the protections and recognition that this vital American workforce needs.
DNWA We Dream In Black
From the Atlanta washerwoman’s strike in 1881 to the original National Domestic Workers’ Union of America in the 1960s and 70s led by Dorothy Bolden, the National Domestic Workers Alliance is proud to carry on the tradition of organizing with Black women and Black communities.
We Dream In Black aims to strengthen and expand our base of Black domestic workers and amplify their historical and current contributions to the broader domestic worker movement. Given the legacy of Black women in domestic work, and the ongoing ways in which race shapes the conditions and experiences of workers, NDWA has prioritized building strong organizing projects rooted in Black communities.
NDWA’s vision for a healthy multi-racial democracy, one that includes real opportunity and equity for Black communities, takes into account the particular histories of Black women in the US. To this end, we are investing in developing effective strategies and models for organizing Black domestic workers. Building upon the work of NDWA’s Atlanta-based chapter, as well as the organizing of Afro-Caribbean workers in New York City, we now seek to further develop our organizing of Black domestic workers, support the leadership of Black members, and implement strategies that are culturally relevant and authentic to Black domestic workers.
SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collaborative www.sistersong.net
SisterSong’s mission is to strengthen and amplify the collective voices of indigenous women and women of color to achieve reproductive justice by eradicating reproductive oppression and securing human rights. SisterSong defines Reproductive Justice as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.
Do read the Herstory of Reproductive Justice at www.sistersong.net/reproductivejustice